Hearts’ Ashley Smith-Brown suffers another injury setback

Ashley Smith-Brown has completed just one full game for Hearts
Ashley Smith-Brown has completed just one full game for Hearts
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Hearts will again be without Ashley Smith-Brown against Ross County on Saturday after sending him back to parent club Manchester City to have a pelvis injury scanned.

It is the latest in a list of niggling problems for the young full-back, although he could be back in contention to face St Johnstone at BT Murrayfield next weekend.

Groin, ankle and now pelvis injuries have prevented him kickstarting his time in Scotland since he agreed a season-long loan from City during the summer. He has completed just one full game for Hearts so far.

Medical staff at Riccarton sent him back to England recently to have the pelvic area looked at. It was agreed that the player should rest and then spend time gradually reintroducing himself to training.

“Ashley has had inflammation in the pelvic area so he’s out,” admitted Craig Levein, the Hearts manager. “He’s been down to Manchester City and they’ve scanned him and looked at him.

“We’ve taken him out of training for two weeks just to try and build him back up again. He’s done a week of that and he’s back running now. He’ll be available next week. He hasn’t had a decent run at all. He’s had little problems here and there and just hasn’t been able to get on the training ground week in and week out. Between ourselves and Man City, we made a decision just to let this thing settle down.

“Then we would work on him for two weeks, try to build his strength back up and take it from there. We’ve yet to see the best of him. We haven’t seen anything of him so far, really.”

Levein will make a late decision on team selection in Dingwall. Midfield is still giving him a headache, although both Angus Beith and Malaury Martin caught his eye in Hearts Under-20s’ midweek win over Dundee United.

“I don’t know about the midfield yet,” he said. “There are a number of things I need to look at. Malo and Angus Beith played in our Under-20s game on Tuesday, so that might have an impact for Ross County.”

Martin has been patiently waiting for a first-team chance since Levein took charge of Hearts. “I think he’s getting up to speed. He’s a very offensive player and we need to have the balance right to put him in the team,” said Levein. “I wouldn’t play him as part of a two in midfield. I don’t think he’s got the physicality, he can’t cover the ground, so we need players round about him. He will get his turn, for sure.”